Grief and the Holidays

In this crazy world, there’s an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy. But in the eyes of God, they’re never separated. Where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is the kingdom. 
— Henri J. M. Nouwen 

For many people this time of year bring a great deal of joy and excitement. The leaves have changed and fallen, temps begin to drop, and evidence of the holiday season is witnessed as homes are adorned with lights, trees are placed in homes and decorated, and every store you walk into has some sort of Christmas music playing in the background.

But for some, this time of year can’t end sooner.

I had an interesting experience this past Saturday in Emporia, KS as I sat next to a mother (my wife’s aunt) who was watching her son’s team play for the Kansas 5A State Football title. The only thing about it was that her son’s #38 Bishop Carroll jersey was not on the field. In fact, before the game, she handed me Tom’s jersey and asked if I would wear it during the game. Tom died back in September from a gunshot wound. The team had dedicated their season to Tom and went undefeated, finishing the season with a 61-20 victory and hoisted the State trophy.

During the game we had a really meaningful conversation about many things regarding life and death. One of the words that kept resonating throughout my time with her was the word, “bittersweet.” As exciting as this victory was, her son was supposed to be on that field. They had just had their first Thanksgiving without Tom and looking ahead to the Christmas season without him brought her to tears.

Maybe you are in the same place today. Maybe in your home there was an empty chair this year at the table where your spouse, or child, loved one or friend sat in years past. 

My prayer for you this holiday season is that you might find peace and perspective in a new and fresh way. For me in my faith, that comes through a conversation with God where I pray something like this, 

“Gracious God, I am at a loss of understanding for why certain events have taken place. But God, You are good and Your ways are holy. You have been faithful in the good times in my life, and You promise to be faithful when the hurt and pain is more than I can handle on my own. Give me the strength to trust in Your plans - in Your Love. If any good is to come through this, may You bring me closer to the person you desire for me to be. Your grace is enough. Your timing is perfect. I trust in You. Amen.”

If you are in this place and you feel like you have little or no support, please reach out to our Chaplain team. We are here because there are times when we need someone to lean on, someone who is willing to listen to the hurt and pain, and someone who desires to see you through times like you are going through. Please take a minute and get connected with the chaplain at your location and we would love to come alongside in whatever way you would desire.